It is June, fair readers, and you know what that means—strawberries are ripening in the garden and we are in the heat of SCOTUS’ opinion season. Let’s grab a bushel and gavel in, shall we?
We #SCOTUS and you can, too!
Noteworthy court announcements
Here’s a quick roundup of the court’s noteworthy announcements since the May 9 edition of Robe & Gavel:
Court allows counting of undated Pennsylvania ballots after Justice Alito puts counting on hold
- June 9: 2022: In Ritter v. Migliori, the court denied an emergency application to stay, or put on hold, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision allowing Pennsylvania elections officials to count undated mail-in ballots. The court overruled the stay that Justice Samuel Alito granted on May 31 before he referred the application to the full court. Justice Alito dissented from the court’s June 9 order and was joined in his dissent by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.
David Ritter, a 2021 Republican candidate for Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania, brought the case, which concerns a Pennsylvania law requiring voters to sign and date their mail-in ballots. Ritter petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for review after the 3rd Circuit ordered Lehigh County to count more than 250 undated ballots. Ritter’s emergency stay application said counting those ballots would “likely eras[e] Ritter’s 71-vote lead.”
SCOTUS has accepted three new cases to its merits docket since our previous issue. To date, the court has agreed to hear 17 cases during its 2022-2023 term. The court has not yet scheduled any of the cases for argument.
Click the links below to learn more about these cases:
- Jones v. Hendrix concerns how federal inmates may challenge the legality of their convictions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and habeas corpus, and the court’s decision in Rehaif v. United States (2019). The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
- Securities and Exchange Commission v. Cochran originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The case involves the subject-matter jurisdiction, or the authority to hear cases, of U.S. district courts.
- Wilkins v. United States concerns the Quiet Title Act’s 12-year statute of limitations. The Quiet Title Act covers civil lawsuits brought to settle ownership disputes over properties in which the United States claims an interest. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
The Supreme Court has finished hearing arguments for its 2021-2022 term. During the term, the court accepted 66 cases for oral argument. It heard 61 cases after four cases were dismissed and one case was removed from the argument calendar. The court’s 2022-2023 term is scheduled to begin on Oct. 3, 2022.
SCOTUS has ruled on 13 cases since our May 9 edition. The court has issued rulings in 40 cases so far this term. Three cases were decided without argument.
Click the links below to read more about the specific cases SCOTUS ruled on since May 9:
- Kemp v. United States
- Garland v. Gonzalez
- Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez
- Denezpi v. United States
- ZF Automotive US, Inc. v. Luxshare, Ltd. (consolidated with AlixPartners, LLC v. Fund for Protection of Investor Rights in Foreign States)
Upcoming SCOTUS dates
Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:
- June 15: SCOTUS will release opinions.
- June 16: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.
- June 21: SCOTUS will issue orders.
- June 23: SCOTUS will conference.
- June 27: SCOTUS will issue orders.
The Federal Vacancy Count
The May report covers nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from May 2 through June 1.
- Vacancies: There were five new judicial vacancies in April. There were 75 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions. Including the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the U.S. territorial courts, 77 of 890 active federal judicial positions were vacant.
- Nominations: There were three new nominations.
- Confirmations: There were six new confirmations.
Vacancy count for June 1, 2022
A breakdown of the vacancies at each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies in the federal courts, click here.
*Though the United States territorial courts are named as district courts, they are not Article III courts. They are created in accordance with the power granted under Article IV of the U.S. Constitution. Click here for more information.
Five judges left active status since the previous report, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies. The president nominates individuals to fill Article III judicial positions. Nominations are subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.
- Judge David Tatel assumed senior status on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- Judge Edward Chen assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- Judge Timothy S. Black assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
- Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis was elevated from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
- Judge Nancy D. Freudenthal assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming
U.S. District Court vacancies
The following map shows the number of vacancies in the United States District Courts as of June 1, 2022.
- Rachel Bloomekatz to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit
- Florence Pan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- Doris Pryor to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
The president has announced 96 Article III judicial nominations since taking office Jan. 20, 2021. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.
The U.S. Senate confirmed six nominees since our previous report.
- Jennifer Rochon to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
- Sunshine S. Sykes to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
- Trina Thompson to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- Stephanie Dawkins Davis to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- Charlotte Sweeney to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
- Evelyn Padin to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
As of June 1, 2022, the Senate had confirmed 66 of President Biden’s judicial nominees—49 district court judges, 16 appeals court judges, and one Supreme Court justice.
Comparison of Article III judicial appointments over time by president (1981-Present)
- Presidents have appointed an average of 50 judges through June 1 of their second year in office.
- Biden made the most appointments through June 1 of his second year with 66, followed by President Bill Clinton (D) with 59. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 26.
- President Donald Trump (R) made the most appointments through four years with 234. President Reagan made the fewest through four years with 166.
Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.
Or, keep an eye on this list for updates on federal judicial nominations.
We’ll be back on July 11 with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out!
Kate Carsella compiled and edited this newsletter, with contributions from Brittony Maag and Sara Reynolds.